General Question

theartfuldodger's avatar

What's cheaper? Building a fence from scratch, or buying those panels from lowes/home depot?

Asked by theartfuldodger (323 points ) May 4th, 2009

Wood. 6’ tall fence. 70’x40’ yard.

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15 Answers

westy81585's avatar

Probably from scratch, but there would be more work involved.

basp's avatar

That depends….
How handy are you?
Are you going to make mistakes cutting the wood and end up having to buy more?
Is your time valuable to you?

My husband is extremely handy(having built our first home by scratch) and he opts for the pre made fence panels. Saves time and hassle.

theartfuldodger's avatar

I’m very handy with tools, and learn quickly. I have a lot of time on my hands. Money is a major factor, we don’t have enough to toss around willynilly.

Thanks for his input! :D

Darwin's avatar

My Dad always built our fences from scratch. Yes, it is cheaper, and yes, it takes a bit more work and planning. It also means you get a good, solid fence that lasts for years, instead of the standard “slap-it-up-and-go” fence. You can also customize it if you want something a bit different from the usual for your part of the world, and you can design it so water sheds off it instead of soaking in to the wood so it lasts longer.

My Dad’s fences are all still standing, although some of them are almost 50 years old.

If you do opt for building it from scratch I suggest you calculate out the supplies you need and then go to one of the centers that supply builders and get the wood delivered. That will save some wear and tear on you and your vehicle and may also cut the cost.

theartfuldodger's avatar

@darwin, that’s awesome, and I like the idea of the water shedding off…

What type of wood is best for outdoor use, but isn’t too expensive? Do I use lumber, or plywood?

basp's avatar

Theattfuldodger
If time is plenty and money a not you are smart to do it yourself and forego the premade panels.

FAGIN's avatar

Scratch around derelict buildings or demolition sites you should find all you need and you’re recycling.
Buying new only creates a market and that means more dead trees even if it comes from sustainable sources.

theartfuldodger's avatar

@fagin Thanks, I’m always trying to find a way to reduce my negative impact on the earth!

Darwin's avatar

@theartfuldodger – it depends on a lot of things as to what wood you use. Here in Texas we tend to use cedar because it is a renewable wood and somewhat resistant to insects and weather. Some of my Dad’s fences in California were redwood, from before we realized what the logging industry was doing. Redwood, like cedar, lasts a long time. Other fences were pressure-treated pine, a renewable wood but the chemicals are not the best for the environment.

If you are going to paint, stain or otherwise seal the fence, then solid “pre-owned” wood can work just fine. Also, if you are going to design it such that the edges will be secure from moisture, then plywood works well. You can also combine wood with items such as fiberglass panels, for privacy and a windbreak, but still allowing light in.

If you really want to have fun, you can design a fence with all sorts of recycled building parts in it, even windows. I saw one fence in Austin, Texas, that had old windows incorporated into the section along the street – it gave some privacy, served as a wind break and kept the dogs from roaming, but still let the neighbors enjoy the abundance of flowers in the yard. You can add in arbors, benches, and all sorts of other special designs if you want.

Here are a few varieties of fence and this site offers ideas for using cedar. This site shows some neat custom fences you could copy.

Have fun with your project. If done well you can really increase the appeal of your house and yard.

jrpowell's avatar

My brother in law started doing fences one summer when he was laid off from Intel. I wasn’t really doing anything so I helped him out. The most important part is getting the 4×4 (the wood you put in concrete) straight. That was the most tedious part. But it is essential. We would put up the ones on the corners and run a string so all of them would be in a straight line.

Then we would use a “transit” (looks like a surveying tool) to mark all of the post. That way we cold ensure everything was level. The tops of the fences were always the same around the entire fence.

We got some cheap lumber from lumber yards. A lot cheaper than Home Depot. They will give you a good deal if you buy a bunch. It was better wood then you would get at a big chain too. And they delivered.

theartfuldodger's avatar

Wow, I love those horizontal fences! See here.

justwannaknow's avatar

Buy the panels. They have the materials priced so it will cost you more than the prefab. And that will not include your time. I checked on this at Lowes, Menards and Home Depot. Same all around.

stevenb's avatar

You should also use metal posts, not wood. My brother put up his fence using 6×6 cedar and pressure treated posts, and he has twenty or so that are rotted in half in less than ten years. Metal one are galvanized and can last for decades. Good luck!

Krag's avatar

from scratch would cost more. The ones they sell complete are junk and made from cheap materials. I would think you would buy better materials and construct it better. In the long run doing it this way is cheaper the prefab

MissA's avatar

What I’m planning is close to this and, I’ve been thinking about it a lot!

I plan on making molds so that I can place the posts in concrete before they get in the ground. Then, I will either place the posts in the ground and tamp dirt/sand around them…or, more concrete.

Remember, you really want these babies straight and limited flexibility is a wonderful thing. And, that’s not as simple as it sounds. I think my thoughts about this are valid. If not, let me know.

We built a forty-foot by ten-foot grape arbor in June of 1989. The thermometer read 104-degrees where we were with our project on a hillside.

My husband has the patience of an ADD child who has eaten one isle from the candy store.

HAVE FUN, whatever you choose.

PS: I’ve not used them, but there is a firm called Lumber Liquidator. They advertise this sort of thing.

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